Pretty Sunset


Breads class

Despite my total lack of credentials (except perhaps my Home Ec. degree?), I find myself with the delightful opportunity to teach a class on bread-baking next Friday evening as part of the "Daybreak Culinary Academy."  I'm going to show how to make my whole wheat bread, artisan bread, the pretty "braided" herb bread below, and cinnamon/orange rolls.  Yum.

More information here.

Morning and wildflowers

It's starting to get hot, and the grasses are beginning to turn brown.  But there is one last blaze of wildflowers first.  I love June.

This looks like one of those artsy photographs I don't really have the talent for (highlighting the tension between the delicate flower and the encroaching foliage, or something) but really I just think poppies have a cool shape against that sky.  So floppy and papery!


Can a marshmallow be too big?*

Perhaps you've seen or heard of these extra-large "campfire marshmallows."  Sam came home with them from the grocery store the other day (NOT on the list) and we were all starry-eyed and excited to try them out. 
We wanted to love them.  But I'm afraid I must warn you away from them.  The problem is that they are just too big.  Tragically, this means that even when pleasantly toasty and browned on the outside, the inner core remains dense and unmelted.  True, you can remove the outer shell and re-roast the inner core, but . . . it's messy and I don't recommend trying it.
Also they don't fit in kids' mouths very well.  Not that, if you are making s'mores anyway, you were planning on clean kids' mouths; and if the taste was superior perhaps I could forgive the unwieldiness.  But, when the child goes to pick up the marshmallow from his plate and comes away with hands like this . . .

(and, I might add, the degree of this mess alarmed even Sebby---if you know him well, you can see the panic budding just behind this smile.  It was only averted when he saw I was going to laugh instead of scold him . . . )

then (in my opinion), it is TOO MESSY.

Sorry, campfire marshmallows.  We know we step squarely** away from the cutting edge here, and call us pedestrian if you wish, but we'll be sticking to*** your smaller, and infinitely more manageable, brethren in the future.
*If you've seen Ghostbusters, you already know the answer to this question is YES.
***Ha! ha!

Some thoughts

I think I like to cook because it is so immediately rewarding.  And I don't feel a nagging feeling that I should be spending more time at it (one of the few things in my life of which this is true).  Of course sometimes I have my failures, and sometimes it takes several tries to perfect a recipe, but for the most part, I can cook something and appreciate it (and even have others appreciate it!) that same day, and I love that. It's so fulfilling. Whereas playing the piano (for example), while certainly rewarding in the long term, is so hard to keep up on. Even if I manage to find time to practice a little, it's never the amount of time I NEED to practice to sound really good. And although I can work on some part of a piece of music and see improvement in half an hour, I never seem to keep it up consistently enough to improve the ENTIRE piece of music at once. By the time I've moved on to the end of the piece, the beginning sounds bad again. Very discouraging.  (And running: same thing.) 

Another thing that is fulfilling to me is having people over for dinner (and of course cooking---see above). I don't feel like I'm ever really the life of the party or anything, but I just enjoy listening to everyone else's funny remarks and laughing with them and learning about what other people are thinking about. And I always feel so proud of myself for having such cool friends. It's not that I really DID anything to deserve being proud of myself, except that I always think "I brought these people together---so I made this happen" and it pleases me to see people I like getting along with other people I like, and liking each other. So every time someone else says something clever or funny, I feel proprietary, like I can take some of the credit for my cool friends, because I created a situation for them to be cool in. I think it's just as satisfying for me as if I myself were the one being witty and funny and entertaining.

And lastly.  Sam has kindly numbered the cans in our food storage so we know which ones to use first.  However: what on earth is this?

My finest hour

I glued the little silverware holder to the rest of the dish drainer with plastic-bonding superglue.  And it is A Triumph.  Right up there with the time Rachael and I improvised a lengthy piano duet of "Sleigh Ride/God Be With You Till We Meet Again" while we were roommates.  Or the time I made my music professor (M. Boren) laugh out loud during his lecture (I believe it was when I quoted The Prodigal Son seminary movie, my voice breaking at the appropriate point: "I've been the good guy.  I've been the good guy!").  Or the time I spelled "repartee" in Boggle.

What possible reason could they have for not attaching that thing in the first place, anyway?

Light, colors, monsters

A few pictures for you, of various things:
Some pictures from an evening thunderstorm the other night.  Very interesting yellow light.
Monkeys and bear in tree

Pretty pastels on the clothesline

Daisy sniffs at a ladybug (disappointed that, of the thousands of ladybugs in the area, she didn't succeed in eating ONE of them!)

Glowing colors on the roses---almost fluorescent!
The Good Monster speaks in his monster voice

Desert flowers

The wildflowers are really, really beautiful in the desert this time of year.  It is amazing to me that these can grow without (much) water!  They are particularly striking because of all the subdued browns and greys around them.  There were huge fields full of yellow and orange and lavender flowers.  First they just looked like washes of paint over the fields, and as you got closer they'd resolve into more defined points of color:
And then close up, the flowers were so delicate and pretty.  I love them!
Also, a few pictures of playing in the soft red sand:
Ky was pretending he was a train going down the hill.  Above him you can see the long "track" he made as he slid down.

We got QUITE dirty, but everyone had such a good time.  ALMOST everyone, that is . . .
Daisy was VERY ALARMED by the (sight of? texture of? quantity of?) sand.  She thus gained the distinction of being the only child I've ever met who doesn't love the stuff.  She actually started shaking, her little arms quivering and her lip trembling too.  This continued until we picked her up, and then she climbed frantically up Sam until she was perched on his shoulder; the better to get far, far away from the ground.  Poor little lamb.

Please do not remove that arch from the park

I haven't been to Arches for quite some time, so it was fun to go back with the boys and remember how beautiful it is.  I just can't get enough of the combination of red rocks and blue sky. 
For awhile Malachi found every small rock within a two-mile radius, and sat on each one.  Then for some reason he decided he was done with that, and kept insisting, "I don't NEED to west, Mommy."
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